Reader Question: Advice on Menswear

Before I answer, I want to say that every guy should own a good suit. Period. If there is any area that the dolla billz should be spent, its definitely in the suit department. It doesn’t have to be very expensive (but shouldn’t be made out of cheap fabric either). The goal here is just to make sure it fits perfectly. Fit is key.

The task of buying a suit can be daunting. Before you head to the shop, your husband should know his measurements. He should also know, generally, what style of a suit he is looking for. How many buttons? What sort of pant? What fit is he going for? Department stores have so many different types of suits that it can be overwhelming if you don’t know how to narrow in.

If you want to drop some change, nice department stores carry brands like Burberry, Armani, or Gucci. I would suggest Barney’s, Saks, or Nordstrom for a great selection. Brooks Brothers is also an option, but keep in mind that their suits are American, so often they will fit on the large side. Just avoid the mall and places like the Men’s Warehouse. Old fashioned Men’s stores are also a great place to start. The Men & Boys shop on the downtown mall is a fabulous store with affordable options. Eljos is great too – a Charlottesville classic for more preppy looks. In Barrack’s road there is Beecroft and Bull and Jos. A. Bank. For tailoring, my husband and I prefer Anna’s.

If you are trying to get something fast and not spend a lot of money, I would recommend J. Crew or Banana Republic. They also offer alterations, which he’ll most likely need to get it just right.

You could also try looking at a nicer vintage shop. Emily’s husband scored a phenomenal black tuxedo at Antics in his exact size. The suit is of the highest quality and the details are amazing! It came with a pair of perfect shoes. He spent a fraction of what he would if it was purchased brand new.

Some thoughts on what to look for when choosing a fit: a jacket should be somewhat slimming, and fit perfectly. The shoulders should be exacting to his and not protrude out (Miami Vice = No). The sleeves should also be long (like to his palm when his arms are hanging down). It should have vents in the back. Stick to classic colors and patterns. Again, just say no to cheap-looking grays and plaids.

I consulted with my husband last night as I was writing this post. He told me that every guy should own one crisp, white, European, straight collar dress shirt with french cuffs. He collects unique cufflinks and it really looks sharp. He finds his unique ties at both high end stores and thrift stores. He also has a nice collection of pocket squares which add a bit of color and are very dashing.

A very beautiful and stylish friend of mine co-authored a book with Tim Gunn called A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style. In the book they give some top-notch advice. When asked in an interview about adding to a suit look, Mr. Gunn suggested, “…try some striped shirts, even just a hint of a stripe if that’s an issue. And why not venture out into more tie options. Regarding shoes, I believe that the sleeker the silhouette, the better—no tassels and fringes for me. Shirtsleeves? If you like a French cuff, then try some novelty cufflinks. But whatever you do, keep the shirtsleeves long.”

As for question about wingtips? Alden’s are a classic. They make a fine wingtip. I am also a huge fan of Cole Haan. My husband swears by them and owns multiple pairs of their oxfords. Try on different styles to get a feel for the silhouette. I also think that black shoes are a good starting point. He can wear them with jeans, a black suit, or a navy suit. Cordovan wingtips are great too because the color is so versatile.

Accents like bright socks, pocket squares, hats and scarfs really add a lot.

I hope these tips are helpful and narrow things down a bit. Let us know what he ends up with!

Images from The Sartorialist and Miami Vice

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About Stephanie

Stephanie is an internationally recognized calligrapher. She employs a wide variety of calligraphic tools, papers, textiles, inks and found objects to articulate both words and portraits.
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9 Responses to Reader Question: Advice on Menswear

  1. Emily says:

    Do you have any recommendations for places in town? My husband did find an amazing 1940s tux at Antics. What about the Men and Boys shop downtown?

    • Stephanie says:

      Yes! I can’t believe I forgot to add that. The Men and Boys shop is our favorite shop downtown for quality separates. They are SUCH nice guys. We rented all of the tux’s for our wedding from them.

      They carry a great selection of shoes and wool hats too!

  2. Kirsten says:

    I’d love to put a plug in for Alton Lane (www.altonlane.com)! Founded by two UVA grads (and Virginia natives), the NYC-based company offers luxury custom menswear at affordable prices. Men, you can send in your measurements and order suits remotely, or visit their NYC showroom and be measured by lasers in their fancy body scanner. High quality clothes that fit perfectly at great prices. My husband loves them!

    • Stephanie says:

      Kirsten, how easy has it been ordering online? Have you ever sent in the measurements and had the right thing delivered?

      Anything with lasers is awesome. I wish I could get my exact measurements that way!!

  3. Kirsten says:

    Tell me about it – I wish they made clothes for women!

    My husband’s been measured with their body scanner, so we haven’t needed to send in any measurements. However, I know they frequently provide suits and tuxedos for weddings (and regular clients) all over the country. Also, once you’re given a password, the website is user-friendly.

  4. Daniel says:

    No kidding. I also recently procured a three-piece suit from Antics in my exact size. It was both classy and affordable, so I highly recommend them too.

  5. Tom says:

    FANTASTIC! What a great blog. I will definitely check in every day.

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